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San Francisco 12, Us 3, Renee 3, San Francisco Tenants Union 2, Ralph Silverman 2, Victoria Hamilton 2, Olage 1, Lucia Campbell 1, Ben Schafer 1, Bart Murphy 1, Ben Schaefer 1, Lucia Kimbell 1, St. Peters Household Committee 1, City 1, Susan Wiseberg 1, Nellie Senedra 1, The City 1, Jesus Terez 1, Blanca Solis 1, Blanka Solis 1,
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  SFGTV    [untitled]  

    December 3, 2012
    2:00 - 2:30pm PST  

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olage said, this has been different, this is different than the original version but i think that it's a step in the right direction. the last thing i'll say about it really quick is that currently the way that tenants get their issues addressed is through a lawyer and there aren't a lot of attorneys out there who are trying to take individual cases about harassment. most attorneys want a class action lawsuit for any sort of tenant-land lord issues. i'm out of time. thank you. >> thank you. >> good afternoon, supervisors, my name is bart murphy, i'm a san francisco rent board commissioner for the last 17 years. i'm a san francisco landlord. i am asking you to continue this matter to the call of the chair, not that i or other people might be specifically opposed to the issue, it's just
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that it's come up, i would suggest that the committee or the proposer to the committee is rushing their fences somewhat in putting this on for today with a referral to the full board tomorrow and that this matter would benefit from some consideration both at the rent board commission and further discussion amongst various stake holders. this has not been on the agenda of the rent board at all to my knowledge. i go to meetings, i get an agenda, it's never been brought up, it's never been mentioned in new business or old business. we get monthly statistics of reports of various actions of the rent board, notices served, claims made. this issue has never been brought up and if it is an issue it's worthy of a discussion amongst the commission. supervisor olage will recall when she was on the planning commission, the planning commission from time to time would weigh in, would typically
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weigh in on suggestions of amendments to the planning code and would make recommendations to the board of supervisors on changes to be made. that's the process that's used. if you take the time to read the san francisco rent ordinance, there is a, one of the main functions of the commission is to review proposals and to make recommendations to the board of supervisors for ordinance changes and here's an ideal situation to follow our ordinance in that matter. in the meantime, there is a whole process in existence for tenants to make complaints of alleged wrongful eviction based on harassment or other issue at the rent issue. there's a process to be followed so it's no harm, no foul, to continue this to the call of the chair and have a discussion on it. thank you. >> thank you. susan wiseberg, followed by
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brook turner, renee' currin. >> ma'am, choose the other microphone. >> my name is susan wiesberg, i'm a volunteer counselor at the san francisco tenants union and i hear time after time reports from tenants of harassment by their land lords in an attempt to get them out mostly from low rent apartments. but i wanted to tell you one story that happened the other day that was so outrageous that it has kept me up at night. there was a young woman, a single mother of a school age child, a woman who was poor, very poor, but she's working, she's in school and she's paid her rent regularly. she's never missed a rent payment. first of all her landlord tried to evict her on
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trumped-up charges. she fought that eviction and won. this was followed by a month or so later an announcement from the landlord that they wanted her to leave so that they could sell the building to someone else. she refused that. they demanded that she give them the keys to the place so they could pass the keys on to any new owner, which they didn't have yet. then they told her that they were going to change the locks. when she said she would call the police if they changed the lock, the landlord came into her apartment when she wasn't there and went through her things. next she got a notice saying we want you to leave so we can raise the rent. so we're offering you a thousand dollars if you leave by the end of the month. and by the way, we won't return your security deposit. she refused that and next they offered her $2,000 if she would
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leave immediately. these now were coming in letters from a lawyer. finally she got a lawyer, a letter from a lawyer, cash for keys agreement saying, we're going to give you $2,000, you're going to give us the keys and we're arriving tomorrow to do this. >> thank you. thank you very much. >> good afternoon, supervisors, my name is brook turner, i'm the executive director of the coalition for better housing. i think today, supervisors, we have a case of the cart being put before the horse on this issue. i am troubled that no one from the rent board is here to discuss this because it obviously is something that's in their purview and should be discussed by the full board before it would come to you to have legislation that's forwarded through. i would ask that that attempt be made to
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have the rent board go through this because as far as we know, there hasn't been a huge onslaught of harassment allegations as chairman mar's says at the beginning of his introduction to the legislation. so we're unsure of why this is needed. obviously there are some harassment issues that go on in these buildings. sounds like the sro has a number of them. i certainly don't represent those buildings but i respect the idea that they should be held to the same standards that other land lords in town should be held to. but we need statistics. we have no statistics, we have no idea why this is being brought up -- well, i guess we know why but we don't know the numbers really being attributed to this problem. if there are a lot of
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complainting that folks at tenant associations and advocates are hearing from, why haven't they gone to the rent board? that troubles me a lot. i would ask you to continue this until the opportunity for the rent board to talk about this and we can talk about this at the rent board. we have been through many, many hearings at the rent board where everyone gets up and talks about their perspective and that's happen. i'd like to see that happen if it's allowable by you. thank you very much. >> thank you. renee' currin, kendra frashman, victoria hamilton. >> hi, i'm renee' currin, also a counselor at the tenants' union. my understanding is the rent board isn't handling
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harassment per se as a decrease of services so that may be why they are not hearing a lot of those cases. that may be my misunderstanding but that's what i've generally told tenants, you know, to try to call it a quiet enjoyment issue and i think that can be very discouraging to tenants, that there's a difficult way to quantify these issues. we do have a lot of tenants coming in with, like, stacks of superficial or unsubstantiated eviction notices. a lot of perfectly educated tenants who think that means they have to move out don't understand that there has to be a summons and complaint. we have people being given verbal eviction notices, eviction notices over
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email, you know, who come in and it's a very intimidating situation and if you are being harassed by your landlord it's very difficult to then go to this author at a timive body like the rent board and make a formal complaint about your landlord who has already been retaliating against you for lesser issues and, as others have said, in the rental market that we have right now people are very intimidated and afraid and not understanding their rights. thanks. >> hello, my name is kendra, i'm with the mission sro collaborative. thanks for hearing me today. i'm here to speak in support of the ordinance. it's been a while in coming. i've been counseling tenants for about 6 years, first the san francisco
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tenants union, so mostly people living in apartments and now the sro collaborative so people living in sro's across the board. when i have gone to the rent board for hearings they will hear other issues but they just won't hear harassment issues at this point. you know, i worked in 2008 on proposition m and we were excited to get that passed to have something that tenants could go to when they had harassment issues. that was eaten quickly at first and slowly over time by the landlords and their attorneys at the courts. this is something i speak with tenants on a daily basis, when i speak to them in hotels a lot of them are scared to assert their rights. they see neighbors who have complained about building code violations,
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around mice, bedbugs and when they speak up they are yelled at, they are asked to leave. there are several things that aren't in any code right now that makes people not want to stand up and when they do stand up there's nothing that can be done for them around those issues and often people do leave. and when we're looking at things like bed bugs when somebody leaves and the landlord rents it to somebody else, it actually perpetuates a whole series of problems. i stand in support of just cause today and i hope you support it. thanks. >> thank you. ralph silverman, ben schafer, followed by lucia campbell. if your name was called, feel free to come up to the mic.
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>> i hesitated to speak today just because i --. >> ma'am, please pull the microphone closer to your mouth. >> my name is victoria hamilton. i did hesitate to speak today because the harassment i received as a tenant has been pretty substantial. i would like to say i have made considerable efforts to fight to be able to get better, i have a disability and to be able to enjoy my apartment peacefully and quietly. i have made hundreds of phone calls and spoken to a number of attorneys and what i'm finding is there are a tremendous shortage of attorneys who are available to address these issues. when i talk to the rent board about harassment they've told me they don't deal with that. i have worked with a number of different organizations and i try to be respectful but they are all really overwhelmed by the, i think it's some of the comments that there were not a lot of cases of harassment are
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misinformed. i have run into a lot of other people who are experiencing this and i think that the economic realities of the rents being very high create an incentive for the landlords to harass people, especially those with disabilities. so i think there is a great need for some legislation to disincentivize people to take advantage of the laws as they stand. and i hope that we will move forward in a direction that lets people have full quiet enjoyment of their home and the opportunity to live in a stress-free condition that doesn't further exacerbate their health. i have limited hours each day in which i feel well enough to do much of anything and i spent a tremendous amount of the time i do have available trying to protect my rights. i've never
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been late on my rent, i am a good neighbor and i just want to be left alone in peace and quiet to enjoy my home and get better. >> good afternoon, my name is ralph silverman, i just want to express my example of being harassed for the last two years in my single, what is it, my unit. i rent a room in san francisco for the last 7 years. i have a master tenant, we share the flat, they want me out. they have harassed me continuously the last two years, vandalizing my property, my bicycle repeatedly. i get no protection from the police department, san francisco rent board, gone through the mediation process unsuccessfully, they offered a thousand dollars and that
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wasn't, seemed like that wasn't significant at the time. now they have -- arbitration hearing didn't amount to anything. when they were able to obtain a tro, a restraining order against me on trumped-up charges, all lies, they then violated that restraining order themselves and had me sent to jail. i'm telling you perfect example, they sent me to jail for no reason at all. no reason. but now due to that fact they have now more legal grounds to evict me and that's where i'm standing right now. so i'm just telling you that this is a legitimate fight and, you know, they have property, they own many houses and they choose to harass me to get me
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out so that they can, if they were to go anywhere else, just like if i were to move anywhere else, it would cost me 3 times the amount. so the rent control laws are there to protect people like myself and not these landlords. thank you very much. >> good afternoon, supervisors, my name is ben schaefer, i work with the mission collaborative, i want to echo my coworkers' ben and kendra just cause. my partner and i who rent a room in the mission are living proof this process needs to be reformed and also the fact that when you are a tenant who has been continually harassed by your landlord and you are then in a mediation hearing with said landlord still being harassed in front of a mediation judge at the rent board, something
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has got to change. this is a particularly hot button issue for myself and for so many of us who work in housing justice because if somebody from the rent board can stand here in front of you and actually say that this issue has never been addressed or they have never heard anything regarding this issue, it makes me livid, absolutely livid. they should be well aware of this. supervisor olage has long been invested in this issue just like the rest of us who are also invested in it, and this ordinance needs to pass regardless of politicking about it, regardless of when it's presented, where it's presented, it needs to be passed. that's all i have to say, thank you. >> dear members of the land use and economic development committee, my name is lucia kimbell and i coordinate the office for household justice
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formerly known as st. peters household committee. we provide counseling to tenants for over 25 years now, a bilingual tenants. i'm here to urge your aye vote. our office takes on cases of landlord harassment every day and the level of harassment our client base confronts is egregious, both in person and over the phone to threats and actual physical assault. prop m that was so hard fought and won in the aftermath of the first dot com boom, especially
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with support of supervisors like yourself are being undermined by this increased harassment especially in a moment where further tech jobs threatens further displacement of san francisco low income tenants especially seniors, people with low income and local protections don't serve the community well. instead we see more families are being pushed out. as a city that sets precedent for tenants rights policy nationally, especially with the passing of antiharassment policy prop m in 2008, we need to continue to do the right thing in ensuring that another wave of gentrification and consequently harassment does not further displace our tenants. i respectfully urge your aye vote.
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>> jean anne new. our organization didn't know anything about this hearing until we saw it on calendar so we were a little bit surprised why this was coming up because it hadn't been on the rent board agenda, there had been no discussion, no calls from the rent board, no indications to us that there were any problems. we, too, agree with some of these speakers that no one deserves to be harassed out of their rental housing in this very tight housing market. but what alarmed me about today's hearing is there was a lot of discussion about people not doing their jobs, people at the rent board perhaps not doing their jobs or some of the community service agencies that the city of san francisco funds perhaps not doing their job. because the city puts a lot of money into nonprofits including the one that i work for, we do get city funding, in order to provide services to owners and
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tenants in san francisco and if the tenants are not getting served then there's a serious accountability problem that i think should be the focus of this hearing instead of creating new legislation. any tenant in san francisco can claim and sue for harassment now and if they are not getting sufficient legal help to the agencies that you here all fund very generously through the tender loin housing project, then there's a serious problem with our tax dollars and i think we should call a hearing and look at that instead of going forward with this legislation. so respectfully we ask for a continuance so we can focus on solving the right set of problems. thank you. >> thank you, jose ferrera, followed by mara castilignon
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and blanka solis. >> my name is maria
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castilignon, i am a member with just cause and i have been living in my apartment for the past 10 years. i rent from a private company that owns a lot of buildings in san francisco and i pay below market rent, although my rent is still very expensive. with this last round of rent increases my rent has increased
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to $2005 for a two-bedroom apartment in the mission. during my time with this company, they have sent me many notices with miss steer yus sums of money that i owe, that i supposedly owe. all of these notices are in english and the amount of money that i owe is never fully explained to me but i am charged at least $200 for $250 a year. my building has changed a lot in the time that i have lived there. the majority of the new tenants are not latinos, they are younger, they are whiter and they pay a lot more rent than i do. it is clear that the property owners wish to displace me because they can make a lot more rent renting to other tenants. tenants like me who have been living in our apartments for many years and that pay rent that is much lower should not continue to be the targets of landlord
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harassment. we deserve to live in our units and in our communities. i ask that you all who have the power to support us support the hassle free housing ordinance and help us ensure that our rights are respected and that we are protected against harassment. thank you so much. >> thank you.
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>> my name is blanca solis, i am a member of just cause and i have been living in my room for the past 3 years. a few months ago i discovered the master tenant in my apartment was watching me when i took a shower with a mirror from under the door. i made a report, i
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received a temporary restraining order and the human rights commission became involved. when i made my report the master tenants attempted to illegally evict me and began making noise and a lot of other things that created a situation where i no longer felt safe because they said that i was the one creating problems in the house. i have not left, i continue fighting my case even though the master tenant continues to surveil me in the house. i do not want to continue living in this situation because i do not feel safe, but i have not been able to find another place to live in the city that is so expensive and so hard to move in. because of the difficulty in finding housing in the city, it is even more important to ensure that the housing that we are able to secure is safe and dignified. i cannot move and it is injust, unjust, that
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there are not easier ways to hold landlords accountable for master tenants. all housing in san francisco should be dignified and free of harassment. please support this ordinance and help ensure that happened to me does not happen to anyone else in san francisco. thank you. >> jesus terez, followed by nellie senedra and elise castra and the last card is angelica >> my name is jesus and i come here to support the legislation
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that you guys will pass for the tenants because i work in soma and i work with lot of families that live in these hotels and they get harassed for no reason. there's a lot of people that don't know their rights so hope you guys support this and we can move it along. thank you. >> good afternoon, supervisors, my name is nellie salvada i support the harassment because a lot of families have been forced by their landlord by forcing them to move out of their apartment. and if they cannot move out right away, the landlord or the management put padlock on their

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